Delgado has a blast as Mets down Pirates
Carlos Delgado's eyes lit up. Yes, it's nice to see all those baserunners. Passing Mickey Mantle, well, that's pretty cool, too.
Delgado hit a three-run homer in a five-run eighth inning and finished with five RBIs, moving past Mantle on the career list and helping the surging New York Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.
"It's a team effort," Delgado said. "We get guys on, we put together good at-bats, put pressure on the opposition and good things happen."
Jonathon Niese plugged a hole in New York's rotation with six effective innings and Carlos Beltran had a tiebreaking RBI single for the Mets, who improved to 3-0 on their eight-game homestand.
Nyjer Morgan had two hits and reached base five times for the slumping Pirates, who have lost six straight and 10 of 11 overall. Pittsburgh also has lost six consecutive road games.
"We've got to stay focused and keep plugging away," said Morgan, who has done his part on the road with a .375 average away from PNC Park this year. "It's part of our learning situation."
Jose Reyes got the winning rally started with a single to center off Tyler Yates (0-2). Luis Castillo then walked before Beltran sliced a single down the third-base line to give New York a 3-2 lead.
Sean Burnett came in for Yates and Delgado greeted him with a drive over the wall in right-center. Delgado's fourth homer gave him 1,512 RBIs, snapping a tie with Mantle for 48th place on the career list.
"It is pretty flattering," said a wide-eyed Delgado, who didn't know he had passed the former Yankees star until after the game, "so you've just got to hopefully continue and keep adding to the list."
Omir Santos tacked on an RBI single as New York sent 11 batters to the plate in its second-biggest inning of the season. The Mets scored six runs in the first against Florida on April 27.
Bobby Parnell (1-0) struck out two in a perfect eighth to earn the win.
New York got a big lift from Niese, who gave up two runs and seven hits. Niese was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo when struggling left-hander Oliver Perez went on the disabled list Wednesday with tendinitis in his right knee. Reliever Ken Takahashi was slated to take Perez's turn in the rotation, but the Mets instead opted to give Niese his first start of the season.
The 22-year-old lefty struck out five and walked none, earning another turn in the rotation.
"I thought he kept the ball in play, nice little curveball he showed, so it didn't seem like it bothered him or anxiety was a problem, anything like that," manager Jerry Manuel said. "I thought he did well."
Niese got a break in the first when Morgan slid past second on a steal attempt and was tagged out before Nate McLouth's base hit into left field. Morgan pounded the bench when he got back to the dugout.
But Niese experienced a little misfortune in the third. Morgan hit a one-out RBI single and moved to second on Freddy Sanchez's groundout. McLouth then hit a lazy fly that looked like the final out of the inning.
Beltran, a Gold Glove center fielder, and right fielder Ryan Church each ran into right-center to get the ball but both struggled to find it in the night sky and it landed behind Beltran in center. Morgan scampered home on McLouth's double to tie it at 2.
"Things happen," said Niese, who promptly got Adam LaRoche to ground out to end the inning. "I've made mistakes. Everybody's made mistakes."
Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens also had to deal with some bad luck. Castillo's well-placed grounder to the right of the mound in the first helped set up Delgado's two-run single.
"If I would have made a play on that groundball in the first inning, it might have made a difference in the game," Karstens said.
Karstens allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings after going 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in his previous two starts.
Pirates SS Jack Wilson (sprained left middle finger) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night. ... Mets RHP John Maine, who turned 28 on Friday, is scheduled to start the second game of the series against LHP Paul Maholm. ... The Pirates announced that RHP Jimmy Barthmaier will have reconstructive surgery on his right elbow on Tuesday. The surgery will be performed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.